Friday, June 29, 2012

Catan - still the best by far!

I love playing boardgames. I love the whole group gaming experience thing, despite being useless at strategy. As a child, I played Monopoly and Cluedo till even I was bored by them. As an adult, I've found it's rare to find a game that I really love - either they're too complicated, or too infantile, or just too embarrassing (and here I'm thinking of any game hat requires me to draw or act!).

And there's Catan. Aaaahhh!! What a brilliant game.

It requires a little bit of strategy, but because randomness is built into the game, even someone like me has a chance against those who have far greater skill (and here I'm thinking of those who like to play Age of Empires, or D&D, or the like, where strategy is EVERYTHING). The best part about it though, is that you can play an entire game in an hour. Perfect! Time is a precious commodity, and when you only get to start playing after the kids are in bed, and if you want to go to bed at a reasonable hour yourself (because you know those little mites will be up before the crack of dawn), then this is just what you need.

Last night, though, we were introduced to an extension game for Catan - Seafarers. Just when I thought Catan was perfect, I discover there's something even better! I've heard (from others) that some of the other extension packs aren't great - that they make the game long-winded - which is why I have avoided them. Then a friend raved about Seafarers, so we thought we'd give it a go. I'm so glad we did!

So - if you're looking for a good game for the holidays, that the whole family can play, that doesn't go on forever (like most), and that isn't one-sided (as only Monopoly can be!), then do yourself a favour and buy Catan. Learn it, and then buy the Seafarers extension pack! It will be the best value for money you've had in ages!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Freak out

On Friday we had a rare night out sans kids, with a regte, egte babysitter. We went dancing! The fact that it happened to be a matrix dance it's besides the point, really. And what a blast we had!!!! It was the perfect way to end off the term and let our hair down. I think we both needed the relaxation and destressing. Although me feet took a hammering, my soul was energised and my spirits lifted.

However, at one point, I did kind of have a bit if a freak out. I was during watching these matric girls, dressed to kill with cleavage and bare backs all on display, flirting with their partners, and to some extent with each other, relatively (but not completely) unaware of just what message they were giving off.

Then it hit me: in a few short years, that will be my little girl, flashing her gorgeous body around for all the boys to see, behaving coquettishly, yada yada. I nearly ran home there and then to put a lock on her door.

She will go to a school that one of us works at so that we can attend her dance to ensure she behaves herself, and there will be no after party. Her dress will be designed by moi, and there will be no display of flesh, anywhere. She will never date, and her brother will be her partner for the night. Any boy showing any interest in her will be shot. She will never be allowed out of the house....

*DEEP breath*

Ok, maybe that's an over-reaction, but I did totally freak out, just for a few minutes. I was suddenly acutely aware of the dangers that lie ahead for her, particularly because she isn't fully aware of just how gorgeous she is.

But, I guess that's why it's a good thing we get to watch her grow up slowly, and grow with her. Hopefully, by then, she will have a mature spirit, one that is sensible, responsible, and trusting of her parents' guidance and wisdom. I know I can't protect her forever, and that the best protection I can give her us to teach her how to behave and care for herself, and then to entrust her into God's care.

Sjoe!!! This parenting thing is hectic!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

9 little monkeys, jumping on the bed...

#2 turned 3 two weeks ago, but we only had his party with school friends today. He asked for a Curious George theme. 

Apart from making their own "George" masks (with prizes awarded for best mask), we acted out the monkey song, with 9 little monkeys jumping on the 'bed', while Mommy ran around and caught one of the monkeys in lieu of them 'falling off', and then they yelled the last line: "NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED". Great fun! 

Of course, no impromptu game is without its mishaps. Ours included monkeys crawling off the 'bed' by themselves, monkeys crawling back onto the 'bed' by themselves, and ... HORRORS! ... the dog leaving a fresh present for us, that the 2 of the monkeys then walked through and carried back onto the 'bed' with them. YUCK! A quick bit of hosepipe action called for, on shoes and trampoline alike, while the monkeys were quickly hoisted to safety and the distraction of pass-the-parcel and cake!

This was my first EVER attempt at working with sugar paste/ gum paste/ sugar dough. Lessons learnt, definitely, but I'm pretty chuffed, actually, at how it turned out. I had to settle for something less fancy than I wanted, but I still think it's a cute cake.

#1 was upset that we didn't get to play the last game of 'pin the yellow hat onto George", because the monkeys got distracted by riding of scooters/ bikes on the driveway after cake. So, after everyone else left, we got to play a little game on our own - still lots of fun! PLUS, this is one game we can keep on playing for a while now, as we've got the poster and yellow hat all set up. Bonus!

As usual, Monkey was spoilt rotten and got lots of FABULOUS presents! I don't think there was a single present this year that I felt was either inappropriate. I just know he's going to love playing with them all. He got a scooter, several items of clothing (his current favourite of which is a blue zip-up hoodie with pockets), a rocket, a soccer ball and goals, LOTS of car/ truck items (one including a felt town background to drive them around on), several Lego "sets"/ items, a dinosaur set (with a Triassic era background to place them on), books, playdough, a hockey stick and ball, and lots of sweets! (And I'm sure I've forgotten something....) He is thoroughly spoilt, and we are so grateful to everyone for their gifts, which have (and will continue to) enrich his life over the coming months.

All round, a very successful afternoon, and well worth the hours and hours of effort to get everything set up for it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My father's (grand)child

OK, from my last post, you know how much I adore my father, and how amazing he is. Well, blow me down with a feather if my daughter didn't prove that his blood flows in her veins tonight!

Chatting over supper, #1 informs us that the toilet broke again this afternoon. It's been doing that for a while now. It really needs a new flushing mechanism, but we just keep fixing it with various bits of McGyvering (I am my father's child, after all, and one of the lessons I've learnt well is that "... 'n boer maak 'n plan"). Why spend money when you don't need to, right?

Anyway, #1 then proceeds to tell us that SHE FIXED THE TOILET!

After we picked our jaws up off the table, we asked her how. Oh, says she, all so blithely, I took the lid off the toilet, and I saw the white thingy wasn't attached to the black thingy anymore, so I twisted it around a bit until I could push the black thingy [we clearly need to work on her vocabulary] back through the white thingy. I put the lid back on and then it flushed again.

Now I swear I haven't shown her how to do that, nor has DH. So she figured this out all by herself.

She definitely has my father's blood in her veins. My McGyvering daughter! Who would have thought?! I am one pretty proud mama right now!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A man for all seasons

June is definitely a month of remembrances for me! A week ago it was my son's birthday. This week it is my father's, and in between is Father's Day.

I know that all (okay, maybe not all, but let's go with the generalisation anyway) little girls think their dad is the best, but mine really is. The longer I'm a parent, the more I appreciate what an incredible father my own dad is. I know he would disagree. He often thinks he was/ is a failure as a parent. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that his standards for parenting are utter perfection - and if that were the standard, then no-one would ever make it.

My dad can make ANYTHING from ANYTHING. He's a real, living, breathing McGyver, except 100x better. He loves science, and particularly astronomy. He is brilliant at maths (especially calculus, which I abhor - AND he can work out logs in his head!). He enjoys soccer, cricket and rugby, but not half as much as he does athletics and gymnastics. (He was nearly a Springbok gymnast in his day.) He ran goodness knows how many Comrades and Two Oceans. He sails. He loves the rain, and a damp, lush garden. He loves jazz. He could spend days reading (science fiction or mysteries) if there weren't so many things to do around the house, or if there wasn't work to do. His general knowledge is phenomenal. The only things he can't do, are cook and sew.

My dad has a capacity for love that continues to astound me. He has learnt that people are more important than things, and over the years, "things" have lost their value for him. (Not to say that he doesn't appreciate the finer things in life, just that they're not as important to him as they were 3 decades ago.) He adores his kids, including his adopted ones, and he adores his grandchildren.

But to me, the most important thing about my dad, is that he never, ever gives up. Ever. He has faced life threatening situations in more ways than I care to remember - whether physically threatening, or financially, or emotionally. Yet, every time (after a period of deep sadness and maybe depression), he eventually picks himself up and carries on. He finds a way to go on living. He makes a plan. He's like a cat with 9 lives. Just when you're sure that this must be the end, he re-invents himself, re-imagines his life, and finds a new direction for himself.

If I was ever in a tight spot, he's the man I want in my corner. He believes in me, and supports me, and cheers me on. Everyone needs someone like that, fighting on their side. My dad's one of those I know I can rely on, no matter what. Even when I have stuffed up completely, he's there for me. Always.

Just by being who he is, my dad has taught me so much. He's taught me that:

  • it's not what you know (and this coming from the man who still knows SO MUCH MORE than I do) that counts, but who; 
  • it's not what you do that matters, but how; 
  • it's not how many friends you have, but the quality of those friends that counts;
  • it's not how much stuff you have, but whether you have the love of your family;
  • it's not about what sort of work you do, but about whether your work enables you to provide the necessities for your family;
  • it's not about what political values or opinions you have, but about whether are true to yourself and to God.
As I parent my own kids, I constantly measure myself against his standard. He taught me the value of hard work, of love, of family, and of how to stand on my own two feet. Good parenting is to teach your kids the character traits and values that will enable them to be independent, and to put their ultimate trust in God. My dad did that. I reckon that makes him a brilliant father.

I love you, Dad. You are awesome. Never under-estimate how incredible you are. I hope and pray that we have many more years together, so that my children can get to know the amazing man you are, and love you as much as I do, so that your legacy of wisdom and hope and love can continue for generations yet to come. Happy Father's Day, and happy birthday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

And down they all go...

We are currently living in a house of invalids. Again. Sigh.

So I have really bad sinustis (homeopathic stuff didn't clear it; neither 1st nor 2nd lot of antibiotics have cleared it... looks like a 3rd dose is forthcoming, followed by ENT visit to determine whether operation is necessary). Yay.

Nathan has tonsillitis - 2nd bout in as many weeks. Oh yay. (In other news, his grommets have fallen out and his eardrums are fully healed; that's good, right? Yes, but only if the tonsillitis doesn't mean he needs to have another op to put another set in. Sigh. Yet another waiting game we will have to play.)

Nellie has a sore tummy and is coughing. Joy.

And Graeme... well, he keeps threatening to get sick, and I just keep threatening him back. ;) So far my tactic seems to be working. But no doubt, no sooner are the kids better and me mostly better, than he'll succumb.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


So it seems that my sinuses are still infected. Another dose of antibiotics, with a good measure of cortisone, and sinus douching (YUCK!!). If that doesn't sort me out, the doc wants to refer me to the ENT and investigate having an op. Oh joy!

While I really don't like the thought of having this op, I have to say that the thought of putting up with yet more antibiotics, or pain, doesn't thrill me either. The amount of pain yesterday was unlike anything I've ever experienced. It felt like a migraine, but without the vision impairment. Eventually it was so bad that I threw up! I mean - seriously?!?! I've heard of people doing that before, but experiencing it myself was something else completely.

So - we wait now to see how this dose of drugs works. Not fun. Especially not the douching. YUCK! YUCK! YUCK! Hold thumbs for me, and cross everything that can be, and pray, pray, pray. I really don't want an op...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Birthday boy

Singing to him (and Sue) made him terribly shy... but not for long!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bonnievale worse than Hillbrow?

I heard some stories today about life in Bonnievale... horrific stories. Granted, it's hearsay, 3rd hand information, but the quote that stuck with me is that someone in power in the boxing world said he'd recently run a trial event with the youth in Bonnievale, and the aggression he saw there was worse than in Hillbrow.

With the recent death of a 6yr old, it would seem that things in Bonnievale are almost ready to boil over. Drugs is HUGE amongst kids. One 74yr old is working hard to change things there. She's got a programme going for pre-school kids, as well as for teenagers. Apparently, she told my source that many of the 18 yr olds she was working with did not even know what a toothbrush is for!!!

I don't really have many details, but I've asked for them. If even HALF of what I was told today is true, then Bonnievale is in desperate need, and I can't stand by and do nothing. I don't know what to do, but I know some people who might. I know my sleep will be troubled tonight, no doubts about that.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Three years ago

Three years ago I was already in hospital, BORED out of my mind. I'd been admitted a day earlier and was already just wishing it would all be over. I knew the induction lay ahead, and wasn't relishing the thought of being woken at midnight to start the process.

I was also terrified.

2 years before that I'd been this close to birth and then Zoe had died in utero, after labour had started.

I'd spent the entire pregnancy with Nathan trying so hard NOT to bond with my child, NOT to get attached to him, just in case I lost him too. I didn't think I could survive losing a second child. Yet, against my better judgement, in the third trimester, I'd realised that I couldn't help myself. I was already attached, both literally and figuratively. As my "dead baby thoughts" intensified, I fell more deeply in love with my baby.

So there I was, sitting in a hospital bed, bored, and desperate.

When I was finally woken at midnight, I knew the induction wasn't going to work - I don't respond to the gels; I only respond (and HOW!) to the injections/ drip. Eventually, at 5am, I was moved across, and given more drugs. By 10am, there was still nothing to report. I was tired (only having got to sleep around 10pm the night before! Hospitals are really noisy.) I was also starting to get worried. I slipped into the bath, to try and speed things up, and that's when these big clots (bigger than a R5 coin) starting pouring out.


I jumped straight out again, the gynae was called, and we went into emergency mode.

After a further hour or so of hard labour (and it now being around noon), I was too tired to push any further. I was at the end of my strength, both physically and emotionally. I was terrified my child wasn't going to make it, and I just wanted to go to surgery and have a caesar.

At that point, I lifted my head, to tell my gynae that enough was enough and to just cut him out, when she grinned and said, "There's his head!" I looked down, and could see the crown of his head appearing. I knew then that the only way he was coming out was if I pushed - it was too late for surgery. So from somewhere deep inside (I still don't know how I did it), I pushed and pushed and pushed some more.

And then there he was - in all his nearly 4kg glory!

The relief at knowing he was safe, and alive, was so much, I basically just passed out on the bed. My job was done. I didn't care if he lacked fingers or toes, or if he was in any other way impaired. He was alive.

I then made Graeme swear to stay with him ALL the time - there'd been a recent spate of baby abductions from maternity wards and the last thing I needed was for my baby to be taken! - and then I really did fall asleep.

When it came to dedicate him to the Lord, my only prayer was that he would continue to bring joy into people's lives, and with that, healing, in the same way that his birth brought joy and healing into my life.

Bringing him into this world alive vindicated me in some way as a mother. I'd failed to do my job properly with Zoe - it's because of me that she died. I know that nothing I could have done could have saved her, because I didn't know about my APS then. Never the less, she's dead because of me. Yet, here I was, giving birth to another child, a living child. I'd overcome my disorder. I'd completed the circle.

And what joy! He was (and still is) a bruiser of a child. And given the amount of adrenaline floating in my blood while I was pregnant, how he turned out so joyful and calm (most of the time) is beyond me! He is a miracle.

As much as I love Janel (and how I love her!) Nathan is special to me in a way that she's not. I know that she is just as much a miracle, even more, because I wasn't on drugs through my pregnancy with her. Because I had to fight for Nathan though, he's got a special place in my heart.

Every day, as I was injecting myself, I would have to talk myself into it. It didn't get easier every day, as the gynae said it would. If anything, it got harder every day. Every day, I would have to tell myself that if I wanted Nathan to live, I had to do this. I had to stab that needle into my own flesh, and grit my teeth through the searing pain (I'm told an insulin injection is relatively painless). And every day I did. Every day I made the choice for him, in spite of what it meant for me. Every day I chose to do what was necessary so that he would live. It doesn't surprise me then, that he has such a special place in my heart.

Seeing him alive, every day, brings such joy into my heart. I thank God for him. Here's to the last 3 years with this very special little boy, who has brought me such love, and joy, and healing, and life. Happy 3rd birthday my precious baby! And here's to many more! May you grow to be all that God has planned for you to be, and to do.